Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Developing new translocation code for Scotland - a community driven approach?

I have recently begun a contract working with Scottish Natural Heritage, the government agency for nature conservation, and the National Species Reintroduction Forum (NSRF), also in Scotland.  The NSRF is chaired by SNH but consists of a real mix interested parties including conservationists that want to explore ambitious translocation projects, and land owners who are cautious about reintroductions and the implications this has for how they manage their properties.  I've been contracted to produce a code for conservation translocations and a document that details what makes best practice when moving plants and animals for conservation purposes.

In my preparations so far, I've gone back to the IUCN guidelines that I co-authored, and looked in detail again at the best practice guidelines for plant reintroductions presented by Joyce Maschinski and co-authors (in Maschinski & Haskins 2012). These, and other guideline documents I've seen, use a combination of a document containing the key principles with an often longer document or detailed sub-sections, that contain more of the explanatory and/or contextual detail.  In some published literature, decision trees are used to simplify the justification of a reintroduction attempt, in other sources, a simple list of yes/no questions does the same job.

Part of my contract is to ensure that the NSRF is involved in the production of the code and guidance document.  I want to make sure that this is a genuine process of stakeholder engagement and that the NSRF has a sense of ownership of the outputs.  However, all the guidance documents I've been involved in have resulted from a group of conservationists (admittedly including biologists, social scientists, and ethics and legislation experts) producing the guidance and not involving stakeholders such as community groups and land owners/managers until a more or less complete draft has been written.  In some cases, the guidelines are simply aimed at other conservation practitioners and the stakeholders aren't involved except to be consulted when a specific translocation is planned.  The most inclusive example I've seen is the New Zealand guidelines which are the most community-friendly because they make translocations accessible to anyone who would like to explore the feasibility of moving a plant or animal into their local area.  Again though, this isn't a case of involving stakeholders in the development of the actual guidelines themselves - they are still issued by the government department with responsibility for conservation.

So, what works best?  How do you get a diverse group of people and organisations to agree on a code of conduct? And how do we genuinely incorporate their views when we can only meet all interested parties on one occasion?  My first idea is to ask exactly what format would suit the NSRF by presenting some of the examples I've described above but if anyone has any other ideas, please contact me!


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Nice blog!
    You may be looking for ideas about how to engage with land managers, community groups rather people with specific species specialisms, but here are some ideas in relation to bryophytes, lichens and fungi.

    We have some active E-groups and FB pages for lichens, bryophytes and fungi I could direct you to. These species groups are also covered under the auspices of Plantlife LINK Scotland (PLINKS), so you might like to add any consultation to their agenda? Finally, the British Lichen Society, British Bryological Society and British Mycological Society all have conservation committees of some sort, so it might be worth including them.

    Dave Genney

  2. Good suggestions Dave, thanks very much. We hadn't considered inviting people from beyond the NSRF to comment but we should consult more widely. It's exactly what we did with the IUCN guidelines and it was a VERY valuable process.